Indian Pink: Summer Flowers for Shade

The Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) are in bloom right now in the shady back garden. This is a useful and unusual plant for a number of reasons.

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Indian Pink

First of all, it’s one of relatively few perennial shade plant that blooms in summer. Woodland perennials typically bloom in spring or, less often, in fall.

Since it emerges fairly late, Indian Pink can take over as spring-blooming ephemerals fade away. I’ve recently planted a bunch of Indian Pinks along the far side of the patio where Siberian Squill (Scilla sibirica), Trilliums, and Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) dominate in April and May.

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Indian Pink combines nicely with Yellow Corydalis. 

Indian Pinks have tubular red flowers that end in a five-pointed yellow star. Given their shape, it’s not surprising that they are attractive to hummingbirds. This plant normally flowers in June and July, but deadheading will extend the bloom period.

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This plant likes moist soil but in my garden does fairly well in a raised bed with dryish  soil and plenty of root competition. It’s native to most of the southeast and parts of the lower midwest. It seems perfectly hardy in Chicago.

Do you have a favorite shade perennial for summer blooms?

37 Comments on “Indian Pink: Summer Flowers for Shade

  1. All of the hostas are sending up flowers. While I do not grow them for blooms, I am not averse to the flowers. And the bees like them too.

  2. Thanks for the introduction to a lovely native! Love your blog!

  3. This is my favorite but I can’t get it to live here. I will have to keep trying if I keep seeing it posted as a temptation.

  4. Looks great with the Yellow Corydalis! I wonder if it would grow in my deep dry shade? Sure looks like it’s worth a try.

  5. I have Indian Pinks too and they seem to be tough troopers. One of mine seems to want to bloom twice.–Hey, I’m okay with that!

  6. Stunning with the Corydalis! I’ve tried this a couple times but sorry to say it petered out on me. Wonderful photos – so jealous!

  7. Lovely to see such a beautiful flower that likes the shade, I like the corydalis too and can think of lots of areas where that would fit in nicely.
    At the moment we have Saxifrage stoloniferous flowering in our shady spots, the flowers really shine out of the dark corners.

    • Don’t know S. stoloniferous, sounds interesting. Just be aware that Corydalis spreads by seed quite a lot, though it’s not difficult to remove.

  8. The Indian pinks are really pretty. I remember seeing them in a shady spot on a garden tour a few years back, but forgot the name until your post!

  9. Thank you and others for introducing me to this wonderful plant! It’s so true–it’s so unusual to have a woodland shade plant that blooms in the summer. I hope it will survive my winters.

  10. I’m going to have to take another look at this plant. People speak so high of it yet I’ve never had much desire to grow it myself and I’m not sure why. Might be time to take the plunge!

  11. Looks fantastic in your garden, Jason.

    I saw a fantastic clump of these blooming in an Atlanta woodland once… I think in May…

    Here in my garden, they also bloom in the mid-spring timeframe. Sadly, I’ve never seen any pollinators (hummingbird or otherwise) visiting them, but perhaps I’d need a larger patch to gain their attention?

    I had three plants in partial sun, but they always looked stressed and would get devoured by rabbits every year.

    This year, I’ve barely seen any rabbits in the garden and the one Indian pink I transplanted to a shady spot beneath a crape myrtle seems much happier. So I think they need almost full shade here in Tennessee, although perhaps they could tolerate full sun as long as the soil stayed moist…

    As for shade-loving summer-blooming perennials… I don’t really have any deep shade, but Agastache foeniculum seems to bloom well in a good amount of shade through both spring and summer. Similarly, Bush’s poppy mallow (https://www.prairiemoon.com/seeds/wildflowers-forbs/callirhoe-bushii-bushs-poppy-mallow.html) blooms both spring and summer in moderate shade.

    And here’s a surprising option – purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Often listed as a full-sun plant, I’ve found that it burns up here in full sun unless given lots of supplementary water. In partial to mostly shade conditions, it still blooms well and seems much happier – healthier foliage, much more drought tolerant.

    • Yes, I also find that purple coneflower will take a fair amount of shade, as well as Rudbeckia fulgida (orange coneflower). Anise Hyssop has done less well for me in part shade.

  12. What an interesting plant — and one I had never heard of. Thanks for broadening my horizons.

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